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The National Football League today released the 2013 regular season schedule. This year, Atlanta’s schedule includes five nationally televised games, including appearances on Sunday Night Football against the New England Patriots (Week 4) and at the Green Bay Packers (Week 14) on NBC. Atlanta’s schedule will also include Monday Night matchups against the New York Jets (Week 5) and at the San Francisco 49ers (Week 16) on ESPN. For the second straight year, the Falcons will host the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football (Week 12) on NFL Network. Along with five primetime games, Atlanta will also play the Buffalo Bills in Toronto at the Rogers Centre (Week 13).
In addition to the customary home and away matchups with their NFC South rivals, Carolina, New Orleans and Tampa Bay, Atlanta will also battle the NFC West in intra-conference play as well as the AFC East in inter-conference play. The Falcons will also host the NFC East champion Washington Redskins and travel to Green Bay to play the NFC North champion Packers. Atlanta’s 2013 opponents posted a combined 107-99-2 (.519) record last season and since the NFL realigned its divisions in 2002, the Falcons are 33-33 against the NFC South. Under head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons have posted a 56-24 (.700) overall record, which is the second best record in the NFL over the last five seasons.
Along with a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship game against the 49ers in San Francisco (Week 16), the Falcons will face four additional playoff teams from 2012. Atlanta will host Seattle (Week 10), Washington (Week 15), and New England (Week 4), and travel to Green Bay (Week 14).
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The Falcons play two teams featuring first time head coaches, Arizona (Week 8) and Buffalo (Week 13). Smith has compiled an 11-0 record against first time head coaches in his five seasons in Atlanta.
The Falcons open the season on the road for the fourth consecutive season, traveling to New Orleans to battle their NFC South Division rival Saints. Atlanta and New Orleans have split their all-time series in New Orleans, 22-22, with the Saints holding a 19-17 advantage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints handed the Falcons their first lost in 2012 as Atlanta fell 31-27 on the road in Week 10. QB Matt Ryan tied career highs completing 34-of-52 pass attempts for a career-best 411 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and a 100.7 passer rating. It was the first time that the Falcons have lost when Ryan has thrown three-or-more touchdowns (17-1). It was also the club’s first loss when Ryan records a passer rating of 100-or-better (32-1).
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The Falcons host the St. Louis Rams in a Week 2 matchup at the Georgia Dome, marking the Rams first trip to Atlanta since 2008. The Rams own a 47-26-2 lead in the all-time series between the two former NFC West foes with the Falcons winning four of the last five meetings, including each of the last three games at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons and Rams last met in 2010 in St. Louis with the Falcons posting a 34-17 win at the Edward Jones Dome.
Atlanta heads to Miami in Week 3 to battle the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. The Falcons trail the Dolphins 7-4 in the all-time series. The Falcons have won four the last five meetings between the two clubs dating back to 1998, including 19-7 win at the Georgia Dome in the 2009 season opener. Week 3 marks the Falcons first regular season trip to South Beach since the 2005 season when the Birds left with a 17-10 win.
The Falcons host the New England Patriots on NBC’s Sunday Night Football in Week 4. The Patriots have won each of the last three meetings between the two teams dating back to 2001, including a pair of games at the Georgia Dome, while the clubs have split the all-time series 6-6. The Falcons and Patriots last met in 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., when the Patriots converted a fourth-and-one play with two minutes remaining in the game to seal a 26-10 win.
Week 5 marks the second of back-to-back nationally televised games as Atlanta will host the New York Jets for the first time since 2005 on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The Falcons lead the all-time series between the two clubs 6-4, including wins in four of their last five meetings. Their last matchup came in 2009 when Ryan drove the offense 73 yards in 11 plays and hit TE Tony Gonzalez for a 6-yard touchdown with 1:38 remaining on the clock to take a 10-7 win at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ.
Following the Bye in Week 6, The Falcons host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Week 7 matchup between the NFC South rivals. The Bucs topped the Falcons 22-17 in the 2012 season finale at the Georgia Dome snapping Atlanta’s four-game home winning streak against its NFC South rival. WR Roddy White caught five passes for 42 yards in the loss, making him the fifth player in NFL history to post three straight seasons with 90-or-more receptions and 1,200-or-more yards. Meanwhile, CB Asante Samuel notched his 50th career regular-season interception when he picked off QB Josh Freeman in the third quarter. Since 1940, Samuel is one of 10 cornerbacks to intercept 50 passes in his career.
Week 8 has the Falcons traveling to Arizona to battle the Cardinals for the first time since their Wild Card Playoff matchup after the 2008 season. Atlanta trails 12-14 in the all-time series, but has won the last two meetings between the clubs, including a 23-19 win at the Georgia Dome in 2012. Ryan once again led the offense on a game winning drive in the fourth quarter, completing 4-of-5 passes for 64 yards on the drive to set up Turner’s one-yard touchdown run.
Atlanta faces back-to-back road contests for the first time in 2013 in Week 9 as it heads up interstate 85 to Charlotte to battle the Panthers. The Falcons and Panthers will meet for the 19th time at Bank of America Field with the two teams splitting the all-time series at 9-9. Carolina handed the Falcons their second loss of the season in 2012 with a 30-20 win in Week 14. The loss marked Atlanta’s first loss to Carolina in its last six games between the two NFC South rivals.
Atlanta hosts Seattle in a rematch of the two clubs’ thrilling NFC Divisional playoff game in Week 10. The Falcons advanced to the NFC Championship for the third time in franchise history (1998 & 2004) after defeating the Seahawks 30-28 in the NFC Divisional playoff round last season. Trailing 28-27 with 31 seconds remaining in the game, Ryan drove the Falcons 41 yards in two plays to set up K Matt Bryant’s game-winning 49-yard field goal. The Seahawks own an 8-5 lead in the all-time series between the two teams with Atlanta winning the last four meetings, including playoffs, dating back to 2007. The last time the two clubs met at the Georgia Dome was a 44-41 Falcons win in 2007.
The Falcons head south to Tampa Bay for the second of two meetings with the Buccaneers in Week 11. Atlanta has won three of its last four games at Raymond James Stadium, including a 24-23 win in Week 12 of the 2012 season. Ryan led the Falcons on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, driving 64 yards in six plays to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by RB Michael Turner. Ryan led the Falcons on five fourth quarter game winning drives during the regular season in 2012 and in his career he has led the Falcons on game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime 21 times, which is the highest total by a QB since 2008 and the most by any signal caller in his first five seasons since 1966.
For the second consecutive year Atlanta hosts its NFC South rival New Orleans on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons are 46-41 all-time against the Saints, including a 24-19 record at home. Atlanta intercepted QB Drew Brees five times and snapped his NFL record streak of 54 consecutive games with a touchdown pass in a 23-13 win at the Georgia Dome on Thursday Night Football in 2012.
The Falcons battle the Bills at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in Week 13. Atlanta holds a 6-4 advantage in the all-time series, including three straight wins against the Bills dating back to 2001. The Falcons and Bills last met at the Georgia Dome in 2009, with the Falcons posting a 31-3 win. Ryan tossed three touchdown passes, while White catch eight passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Week 14 sends Atlanta to Green Bay for a matchup with the defending NFC North champion Packers at Lambeau Field. Smith owns a 2-2 record, including playoffs, in four games against the Packers while the Falcons trail 13-12 in the all-time regular season series. The two teams last met at the Georgia Dome in 2011 with Green Bay winning 25-14. The Falcons have not traveled to Lambeau Field since 2008, where Ryan completed the first fourth quarter comeback win of his career. Ryan led the offense to 10 fourth quarter points to outpace the Packers in the final minutes of the contest.
The Falcons welcome the defending NFC East Champion Washington Redskins to the Georgia Dome in Week 15, marking Washington’s first trip to Atlanta since 2009. The Falcons are 7-14-1 against the Redskins in their history, but have won each of the last three meetings between the two teams, including a 24-17 win at FedEx Field last season. After trailing 10-7, Atlanta scored 17 fourth quarter points, including a game tying 53-yard field goal by Bryant and a 13-yard go-ahead touchdown run by Turner to secure a 24-17 win.
The Falcons make their only trip to the West Coast in Week 16 for a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers in ESPN’s final Monday Night contest. Despite suffering a 28-24 loss in the penultimate game, WR Julio Jones had the best game of his career, catching 11 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns. He set a Falcons franchise-record for the most receiving yards in a playoff game and tied White’s club postseason record of 11 catches. The Falcons trail the 49ers 29-44-1 in their all-time series with Atlanta winning each of the last four regular season games between the two teams. The Falcons' last trip to San Francisco came in 2009 when White set a franchise record with 210 receiving yards in a 45-10 Falcons win at Candlestick Park.
The Falcons close out the 2013 regular season by hosting the Panthers in Week 17. Atlanta owns a 23-13 all-time record against Carolina, including a 14-4 mark at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons have won five straight home meetings dating back to 2007, including a 30-28 win in 2012. Trailing 28-27 with 59 seconds remaining the game, QB Matt Ryan drove the offense 77 yards, including a 59-yard pass to White to help set up a 40-yard game-winning field goal by Bryant.